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Lusher expects $260 more per student following court’s decision on voucher funding

Lusher Charter School expects to receive an additional $260 per student in state funding for next year following a recent Louisiana Supreme Court decision that ruled it unconstitutional to fund the voucher school program using the state’s per-pupil minimum foundation program.

The Louisiana Supreme Court decision came down on May 7 and said Gov. Bobby Jindal’s voucher program, which diverts public school dollars to pay for private school tuition, cannot be funded through MFP dollars because the Louisiana Constitution says MFP money must be spent in public schools.

Chief Financial Officer Lynden Swayze told the board at its June 3 regular meeting that the school must wait until it receives something in writing from the state before it can rely on the additional money. The school, however, expects to receive $445,900 in additional state funding.

The extra money, Swayze said, means the school will not have to dip as far into its reserves as originally planned for next school year. The school’s 2013-14 budget projected that the school would have to spend $641,000 in reserve funding to cover the $16.2 million budget.

Board members also voted at their June 3 meeting to adopt the 2013-14 budget.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to accept a donation of a kiln valued at $3,095 from Crocker Arts and Technology School, a Recovery School District charter school that’s slated to close June 30 due to consistently low performance scores. It will be taken over by New Orleans College Prep.

Board members also voted unanimously at the June 3 meeting to elect four new board members to the Advocates for Arts-Based Education Corporation, the nonprofit that oversees Lusher. The new board members are Richard Cortizas, Chunlin Leonard, Alysia Loshbaugh, Reuben Teague and Jason Rogers Williams.

Board chairman Blaine LeCesne said the June 3 meeting was likely the “shortest in the history of the board,” as the board typically meets on Saturday mornings. The Monday night meeting was held so the board could adopt the budget before the state’s deadline and accept the Crocker donation before the school’s leadership changes hands June 30.

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